Both are documents that allow you to give instructions about the type of health care you want to receive, including who should oversee your treatment if you are unable to speak for yourself.
Here’s a brief overview to help you understand the basic types of health care directives.
This is the document that lets you state what type of medical treatment you do or do not wish to receive if you are too ill or injured to direct your own care. (Among other things, it’s the document you can use to be sure doctors do — or do not — “pull the plug.”)
Power of Attorney for Health Care
This document allows you to name a trusted person (usually a family member/s) to make medical decisions for you if you are unable to communicate on your own. The person you name to make these decisions is called your agent and authorises him or her to make limited health care decisions for you including, if you wish, the decision to refuse intravenous feeding or turn off the respirator if you’re brain-dead – if you become incapable of making that decision. The form can be used to make decisions about things like nursing homes, surgeries, and artificial feeding.
You can give your agent the authority to oversee the wishes you’ve set out in your living will as well as the power to make other necessary decisions about health care matters.
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